the smell of my desperation has become a stench

On parenthood, and why you should rethink it

I returned home late last night from DC only to wake up this morning to one horrifically sick baby. Chipped-tooth, ringwormed baby Bobo now has a mouth and tongue covered in giant white canker sores.

ATTENTION UNIVERSE: when I write about Marlo’s ailments I’m not asking you to give me more content. We clear?

Also, Jon has managed to keep her fever at a manageable level since Sunday, but the fever persisted this morning. As well as the constant monotone moaning which I can forgive her for because one, she’s sick, and two, she does this really cute thing where she can’t get comfortable anywhere, will walk in circles looking for just the right spot, and then she’ll lie right down on her stomach, put her head on the floor and stretch her arms out as if she’s trying to hug the house.

Just like that one friend I had in LA who smoked all that weed.

Back to the doctor where the diagnosis was pretty much, yeaahhhhh. Kids get these viruses in their systems and stuff like this happens! In fact, it should get much, much worse before it gets better. Like, don’t be surprised if she opens her mouth and a giant eight-foot squid pops out! Just try to remain calm so she doesn’t freak out.

This couldn’t come at a better time because I’m going to be doing the solo parenting thing for the next four days. Without childcare of any kind. I know, don’t I deserve a cookie? A big one with a giant middle finger crafted out of chocolate frosting right on top. Except when I take a bite I suddenly realize, oh my god that’s not frosting.

My sister and the women like her would look at this situation and be all, honey, add seven more kids, a broken toilet, and a teenager who just walked in the door carrying a goat with foot and mouth disease. Average Friday night RIGHT THERE.

In an effort to gear up for the rest of this week I indulged in a massage yesterday morning while in DC, except I was so tired that I fell asleep in the middle of it. And the only reason I woke up was because I choked on a giant snore and jerked my right foot about two feet into the air barely missing the massage therapist’s face. And to class that up even more I TRIED TO PLAY IT OFF. Like I was clearing my throat and stretching my leg.

Don’t worry about us, Jon! I’ve got everything covered!

  • kacyd

    2010/10/06 at 2:23 pm

    You crack me up…if I lived closer I’d come over and help you for a day. Hope everyone survives the next four days.

  • The Dalai Mama

    2010/10/06 at 2:30 pm

    I know single moms and dads out there laugh at us coupled parents when we complain that our significant other go out of town, but let me agree with you–it sucks. It is hard and I don’t envy you. I am lucky to have some super human kids who haven’t been sick much (no ear infections, one or two single episodes of vomiting an three fevers).

    But I have two Marlo’s–kids who haven’t fully grasped what risk assessment is and who NEVER. STOP. TALKING. EVER.

    Best of luck to you.

    Do you think Jon got her sick on purpose? Just a thought–husbands do that kinda shit. Tyrant would be my next guess.

  • nadaliem

    2010/10/06 at 2:40 pm

    Props to you for being a single parent for a couple days! I don’t have any kids and could not even imagine trying to look after them solo. Marlo wandering in circles looking for a comfortable spot cracks me up. She reminds me of my cat, who does the same thing until I make her sit haha! Hope Marlo is feeling better really soon!

  • sarahdoow

    2010/10/06 at 2:40 pm

    Oh man, the image of you waking is hilarious. I hope the universe treats you a little more kindly over the next few days.

  • outsidevoice

    2010/10/06 at 2:49 pm

    Foot and Mouth Disease MAGICAL FIX: (Not kidding)

    (From my pedi – so not Internet-creepy)

    Mix 1 tsp Childrens Benadryl liquid with 1 tsp Maalox liquid.

    Stick your finger in it and swab all over her mouth where the sores are. Not before she eats – it numbs stuff.


    xo – Pam

  • Amber_D

    2010/10/06 at 2:51 pm

    Oh no! I hope this doesn’t affect her ability to eat cheetos. I much prefer radioactive orange canker sores to white ones.

  • adamsrice

    2010/10/06 at 2:57 pm

    Poor poor mommy. I feel for you. Wait, does vodka work here too? Maybe just dampen a rag and let her chew on it some. You might just get a whole new kid with a rosy outlook.

    I can no longer do this with mine. Turns out a certain little man is an angry drunk.

  • americanmom8

    2010/10/06 at 3:09 pm

    So what you are trying to tell us is “Don’t get mad and send hate mail if I don’t post anything for the next few days.” Right? I guess we will live but not as well as we would have when we read your posts!!

    Just survive. Some days that is all we can do. Just think of the thousands of internet hugs and encouragement coming your way this week.

    Benadryl and Malox (magic!!!) for the baby. Vodka for you!! I don’t drink but I would in this instance so go right ahead!!

  • Jcaska

    2010/10/06 at 3:22 pm

    Oh, you are one generous soul, poking fun at your own misery for our amusement! Best of luck over the next 4 days…for you and the kids!

  • aslapintheface

    2010/10/06 at 3:28 pm

    I agree on the Maalox and Benadryl mixture. We use it at our house when our kids get sores like that. It works ! One of my babies once had Fifth Disease (the rash so bad that they give it a number and not a name) and the other baby was bitten all over by a blister bug in her sleep. Oh yeah … good times … good times.

    Chalk this up to another story that you can tell (and laugh about) from the deck while drinking Mimosas during the retirement years (aka the years when your grandchildren are torturing your children and all you can do is sit back and laugh).

  • skirtastop

    2010/10/06 at 3:33 pm

    Not to be “that commenter” that freaks you out about medical conditions, but when he was in the second grade my husband came down with a fever and canker sores all over his mouth, which quickly spread to other mucous membranes and he ended up in the hospital. They diagnosed him with a rare disease called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which they think may have been caused by an antibiotic he’d recently been taking. DON’T look for internet photos, they’re really horrible. His case was pretty mild and he suffered no major lasting effects. Just wanted to make sure you’d heard of it so you could mention it to your doc if it seems to be spreading/getting worse. Wouldn’t want Marlo to suffer because your doc had never heard of this condition – my husband was at a major teaching hospital in a medium/large city and just one doctor happened to have seen it before to know what it was. Best of luck with everything!

    PS – I think everyone falls asleep during massages, don’t they?

  • booner32

    2010/10/06 at 3:37 pm

    Jon, if you haven’t left already, get the hell out of there, like now.

    And put your iphone on airplane mode.

  • Monday

    2010/10/06 at 3:46 pm

    Find someone to help out.
    Parenting is not an endurance test to see if you kill yourself first or your kids…
    Hang in there!

    For all those people with a quiver full of kids – good luck to them that is their calling they are different then the rest of us!

    You are allowed to complain all you like.

  • marcihutch

    2010/10/06 at 3:42 pm

    I agree with Maalox and Children’s Benadryl mix, it is a life-saver! Although I would suggest using a Q-tip to put it in her mouth, it lessens your chance of getting it!
    My daughter has had Hand Footh Mouth disease twice, and it is one of the worst experiences we have had since she was born. Seriously! She is a thumb-sucker, and she couldn’t soothe herself because it hurt to suck her thumb. Misery! So sorry…

  • Caro

    2010/10/06 at 4:27 pm

    Don’t sweat it about falling asleep during your massage. We (massage therapists) dig that. Good luck with BoBo, poor sweetie, hope she feels well soon!

  • Amy J.

    2010/10/06 at 4:47 pm

    I have no idea why I’m telling you this Heather because I know it will just freak you out, but Hand, foot and mouth disease is what Sarah had (first high fever) before she was diagnosed with Type 1 at age three. About two months after she had a VERY mild case of it (though with nearly 104 fever) she developed Type 1.

    That is SO not meant to freak you out…but I tell people that just because that virus, coxsackie, is being looked at as one of the catalyst viruses for kids with Type 1. Since we had no freakin clue we were at risk I tell other parents in case they start to see signs of Type 1 following closely after a virus such as that. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease and it usually is set off after a child gets sick and their body fights off infection.

    Ok…this was so not helpful.

    Good luck. Yes, you’re right…I can’t feel for ya too much considering my children’s health issues and my husband’s schedule. I’m alone for half the month all the time.

  • missusclark

    2010/10/06 at 4:55 pm

    Time to yell for help, Heather. There is no prize for creating misery for yourself. How you plan to run a business, and deal with a sick kid, plus get Leta back ‘n forth to school, I can’t imagine. Oh, and produce meals and keep poor Bobo from killing herself. And get some sleep, so you don’t go nutsie-koo-koo.

    Seriously, that’s what family is for, a kind of group insurance. Best of luck!

  • Domestic Goddess

    2010/10/06 at 5:22 pm

    Canker sores are the devil. THE DEVIL. Miserable children. *shudder*

    In all seriousness, my one kid, who is severely autistic, gets sick with a fever and doesn’t move. It’s the only time I can sit and put my feet up and yeah, I feel bad, but hey. He stops moving! I get to sit! On a chair or couch! And he sleeps! It’s glorious.

    I’m such a great parent for secretly wishing he’d get sick…

  • jennisdrinking

    2010/10/06 at 5:35 pm

    That sounds like hand foot and mouth disease. Sucks they said it’s viral, so no antibiotics! I’m so sorry! If it makes you feel any better I’d be freaking out too. (I know that probably didn’t help at all, sorry again!)

  • gavintiegirl

    2010/10/06 at 6:58 pm

    Holy shit….these comments are cracking me up!

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/10/06 at 7:14 pm

    At least you didn’t fall asleep and fart during your massage. Silver lining!

  • sugarberry07

    2010/10/06 at 7:44 pm

    my kid had that nasty foot and mouth (minus the foot part) thing, right around his birthday, awful, I know. I thought it was an ear infection and when the doc looked in his ears and said they were clean, I just about died. I had to pay for an ER visit for teething pain?! Then he did a “oh wow, look at his mouth” thing and I felt even worse. I second (or fifth or sixth) the Benadryl and Maalox stuff, half-and-half, and give her a teaspoon every 4 hours (or you could do the whole finger-in-mouth thing, but I like my fingers attached). My doc said a week before it clears up. I’d say, as soon as you can, run away or hide in the attic. You can keep the critters company!

  • Truthful Mommy

    2010/10/06 at 9:17 pm

    Sometimes single parenting sucks. My husband has had to take a job in another state and that leaves me 5 days a week, every week with all the parenting.This is not what I signed up for when I got married and started procreating with the Big Guy.I suck it up and muddle through.It is particularly awful when the kids are sick because they are even more whiny than usual and then you have to add all that into your already packed day and times it times infinity when you yourself inevitably catch whatever nasty little cootie they are harboring ( and don’t think you are safe from preschool aged diseases..I’ve had hand and foot and herpe angina..both. Whats next diaper rash?) and that puts you at about the level of hell you are on. Hope Marlo is feeling better soon.There’s nothing sadder than a sick baby, except for the exhaustion of the Mommy of the sick baby:( Take care and God bless!Happy Mothering! I’m thinking you may need a care package with a little person in it who will pop out and help out in any area needed at any time; cooking, cleaning, soothing sick baby back to sleep, impromptu massages and some cookies minus the finger!

  • HelluvaMormonFan

    2010/10/06 at 9:39 pm

    I was told about the Benadryl/Maalox magic for strep throat when my oldest was under a year old. It coats the throat as they swallow, numbing it from the pain for a bit. Loved that trick. Still do. And now I know it’s great for other stuff, too!

    Hope you make it without any help for the next four days. Parenting a sick child is the worst, with or without help!

  • speakno

    2010/10/07 at 8:01 am

    Forgive me for going against the tide, but I don’t understand this: “I’m going to be doing the solo parenting thing for the next four days. Without childcare of any kind.

    You talk about how you moved to Utah to be closer to family. I’m a nanny, and can (relatively) understand your point. I’ve done week long jobs when the parents have gone out of town. It’s rough. But. You. Have family around. I cannot compute what the problem is.

    Just my two pennies. Not trying to shit in your cereal.


    2010/10/07 at 8:56 am

    Bossy could never fall asleep while getting a massage due to all the OH MY GAH TICKLISH which keeps Bossy’s body as stiff as the board she is lying on while receiving said massage. Yeah, relaxing. #counterproductive

  • floridagal73

    2010/10/07 at 8:59 am

    My son had that same virus in his mouth and the doctor gave me a prescription that had three things in it, one of them lidocaine, which helped numb the pain. I’m pretty sure Maalox was one of the others and I can’t remember the third.

    As for the single parenting, you know you can do it. We’ve all been there, you’ve been there, and you’ll be fine. The best thing to remember is to just not try to do alot; take it easy (as much as is possible) b/c it’s in the trying to do things that you get frazzled.

    And to a certain extent, I agree with speakno – use your family! =) Good luck kiddo!

  • dooce

    2010/10/07 at 9:41 am

    My stepfather just had knee surgery, on both knees, and my mother is taking care of him. My father and stepmother just started a full time position with the Church. My brother has five kids of his own and works. My sister has five kids of her own and has certain things going on that prohibit her from helping me. Our usual childcare is out of town for the next week.

    Trust me, I tried finding help. The timing just didn’t work out.

  • missusclark

    2010/10/07 at 10:30 am

    OK, no help. So, now I’m gonna second floridagal73.

    Don’t try to accomplish anything other than the basics; accept the reality of your limits. Let the laundry pile up. Use paper plates. Order in meals. Tyrant can hold down the fort at the Blurbodoocery. Truly, in order not to make yourself insane, a siege mentality is essential. Lay on the couch with Bobo, watch cartoons,and veg. You will both be better for it!

    Good vibes comin’ atcha from the Central Coast!

    * awww, jeez! I read the tweet about Tyrant! Did you offend an old gypsy woman?!?

  • breastzilla

    2010/10/07 at 10:31 am

    I remember having Hand Foot and Mouth disease when I was a kid and it was NOT fun. I feel for Marlo and you. I could understand what was going on so I can’t imagine not being able to understand. I feel so bad I’d come and help but I’m kinda far (NY). Good luck.

  • manda82panda

    2010/10/07 at 11:42 am

    I’m really sorry. I’ve been up all night with my sick baby. He is finally sleeping now and I’m exhausted. Gonna go get a nap before it’s too late. Good luck with yours!

  • Leball

    2010/10/07 at 11:42 am

    You can do it! I know you will cry cuz you will be so tired, ( I did). My son had the same thing happen to him at Marlo’s age. He had just got back from step, the flu to daycare. That same day he came back with Hand Foot and Mouth disease! Ugh, my poor baby. That mixture up above works, and the doctor also gave me tylenol with codine so he could sleep. He was in sooo much pain! Good luck Heather! Hope Marlo feels better.

  • speakno

    2010/10/07 at 11:59 am


    Thanks for responding. And, understanding that I wasn’t being a troll.

  • speakno

    2010/10/07 at 12:05 pm

    PS. This should be a good week to teach Tyrant to change diapers. And for Marlo to enjoy a couple servings of corn.


  • Monday

    2010/10/07 at 4:05 pm

    Heather, OMG, when it rains it pours.
    You bettter watch out for lightning, wear your rubber boots!

    Wishing your stepdad a speedy recovery!

  • blueskies

    2010/10/07 at 6:36 pm

    Oh no, I thought of coxsackie virus immediately when I read this. I had it when I was 12 of all things. It was really awful. I hope the recommendations that others have given will help!

  • Lily Hydrangea

    2010/10/07 at 10:54 pm

    Since my son was little he always seemed to get viruses with high fevers, things that could never be treated with antibiotics – which can be a little frightening for parents. About a year and a half ago his pediatrician suggested he take Culturelle everyday, he believes everyone should be on it. He said it’s a Probiotic that has been clinically proven to work. I started giving it to my son immediately & he has been taking it ever since. I noticed a big difference since then, about half as many colds and less serious Winter illness.
    My son is sixteen, so I would check on the dosage with the company & your child’s DR if you decide this is something that may help.
    I know it’s hokey but ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.
    P.S. I don’t work for Culturelle, I just want to share something that really seems to be working for us.
    Good luck Heather & may the force be with you these next few days!

  • maticki

    2010/10/08 at 5:14 am

    I am 9 months pregnant and miserable waiting for labour to start and this really made me laugh…

  • holly8615

    2010/10/08 at 9:46 am

    My husband tore his ACL two weeks ago, and won’t have surgery for another 2 weeks. So that means that not only am I the only parent who can “parent”, I am also taking care of him. He can literally do NOTHING for himself except get up and go to the bathroom. I also work full time.

    You are lucky that your husband is at least leaving the house…

    I’ve needed to bitch about this for a while.

    p.s. Both kids have had the stomach flu in the midst of this, in case anyone was wondering how this could get any worse.

  • freidabeanlady

    2010/10/08 at 7:11 pm

    I just found your site and HOLY CRAP it’s funny. Good luck to your single mommydom. I feel for you lady. Thanks for putting a comical twist on misery.

  • ccharrell

    2010/10/08 at 7:25 pm

    OMG! My two-year old has hand, foot and mouth disease as I type- well he’s had it all week. It must be going around. It really is as bad as it sounds! I really couldn’t believe you were talking about Marlo having HFMD and I’m going through the same thing as you. Good Luck! You need it!

  • bloggras

    2010/10/09 at 10:43 am

    Sheeeit, lady. Come over here. You’ll feel better about your whole life, i promise. Plus we still have whiskey.

  • Blahggy

    2010/10/10 at 8:20 pm

    I can’t even begin to imagine.

    And, is it just me or are you using more italics and less CAPITALS? (thought I’d help with visual aids)

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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